Jan. 13, 2004

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Contact: Brad Kemp, KU Natural History Museum, (785) 864-2344; or Sarah Biles, Union Station, (816) 460-2252.

KU, Union Station to collaborate on dinosaur preparatory lab in Science City

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Leaders at Union Station Kansas City and the University of Kansas Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center in Lawrence today announced a collaboration to increase public awareness of biodiversity science.

In a signed memorandum of understanding, the two organizations agree to work together in three areas: developing science education programs, developing infrastructure to support informal science education and building mutually beneficial relationships among personnel at each organization.

Initial efforts will focus on the development of a fossil preparatory lab to be located inside Science City at Union Station. The laboratory would be staffed with paleontologists from KU, and the public would be able to watch the scientists prepare real fossils for exhibition display.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity for Union Station and Science City," said Turner White, chief executive officer of Union Station Kansas City Inc. "We are truly fortunate to be able to enhance Science City with new programming and exhibits that are developed by the staff of such a high-quality educational institution like the University of Kansas. It's a win-win situation for both organizations with the real beneficiaries being the students, children and adults who can learn about early earth and life science in an enjoyable setting at Science City."

Leonard Krishtalka, director of the KU museum and research center, said, "As the Kansas City area's research university, the University of Kansas is pleased to have this opportunity to bring the grand story of biodiversity research to Kansas City and Union Station. The dinosaur preparation laboratory, as a first step toward that goal, will bring skeletons from a real Jurassic Park that KU paleontologists discovered a few years ago to Science City and millions of people in the Kansas City and regional area."

Both organizations will cooperate in raising funds from local, regional and national sources for the fossil preparatory lab and other projects and programs of mutual interest. A task force of three people from each organization will be established to oversee the funding, planning and development of the fossil preparatory lab.

The KU Natural History Museum is the nation's leading university-based biodiversity research institution. Its mission is to study the life of the planet for the benefit of the earth and its inhabitants, documenting the fantastic diversity of life, uncovering its intricate patterns, telling the grand stories that emerge from this research and educating the next generation of biodiversity scientists.

Union Station Kansas City is a historical landmark and civic asset renovated and reopened to the public in 1999. It features a science center, national traveling exhibits, the region's only 3-D giant-screen movie theater, live theater, shops and restaurants. A bi-state cultural sales tax, the first of its kind in the country, funded nearly half of the $250 million renovation. The remaining money was raised through private donations and federal funding. Union Station is a nonprofit 501c3 organization. Current operating costs are funded by general admission and theater ticketing, grants, private donations, commercial space leases and facility rental. Union Station is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Union Station Kansas City Inc. also operates the Kansas City Museum in Kansas City's historic northeast neighborhood.

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